Balancing Beats & Books
A typical conversation at CWE includes the following words: "work," "studying," "exhausted." But, how many students can say that they hear the words: "My band is performing this Saturday" or "I'm writing rhymes for my album." A conversation with CWE student Steven Gonzalez is sure to evoke such responses.
Gonzalez is used to wearing many hats. He is a full-time CWE student with a concentration in Literature & Communication Arts and will begin his senior year in the fall of 2009. He was recently named acting director of affirmative action at CCNY uptown. Along with these accomplishments, Steven, AKA LEXDoe "TheEmcee," is also a performer and creative lyricist, as well as a smooth balladeer of salsa music.
"I won first place in CCNY's first ever CCNY Idol, a talent showcase held at the uptown campus," said Gonzalez.
A Bronx native, Gonzalez has always had a natural love for performing. He has very clear memories of his early performing days, which began in the 5th grade when he and some of his classmates put on a show for his school. Armed with a Nice and Smooth classic and a Casio keyboard, Gonzalez recalls the challenge of his first performance. "I was playing the whole time and rapping so that was by all means my most complicated performance yet," he exclaimed while chuckling. This was the beginning of Gonzalez's connection with hip-hip and performing. He would go on the hone his lyrical skills through free-styling (off the top of his head), battling (competing) throughout the Bronx and taking vocal courses at LaGuardia High School, where he was a vocal major. "Within three weeks of my initial start date at LaGuardia I was recording. I've been recording since."
During his brief stint at Five Towns College, Gonzalez began performing with live bands as a rapper and lead singer. Despite his genuine love for hip-hop, salsa holds a special place in Gonzalez's heart. "Hip-Hop was my outlet to the inner city side of me but the Boricua, hard-core Puerto Rican side of me was always a fan of Spanish music, especially salsa."
In the summer of 2008, fate knocked on Gonzalez's door and he didn't hesitate to answer. He received a phone call from Frank Cotto, director of the salsa band Vaya. "It kind of fell into my lap," said Gonzalez. "I auditioned for the band, Cotto was looking for a lead singer and I've been doing so ever since." Since becoming Vaya's lead singer, Gonzalez continuously receives positive feedback from his band director. "It's been great working with Steve" said Cotto. "He's a confident and charismatic performer whose positive energy feeds into the band." Gonzalez has come a long way from his fifth grade performing days.
Next year, Gonzalez plans to complete his solo album and release it online. As for Vaya, the band is planning to head into the studio and begin recording a new album as well as an inner city tour. Steven's music, as well as music by Vaya, can be found at http://www.myspace.com/lexdoe Or http://firstname.lastname@example.org